KOTA BARU, June 10 — The Kelantan government today denied claims that the spread of pneumonia among the Batek tribe of the Orang Asli community in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, was due to mining activities.
Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said reports from the Kelantan Health Department showed that in this case the pneumonia was an airborne disease, and not due to water.
“So far, preliminary reports of pneumonia concerned difficulty in breathing and were related to air, and not water. It is too early to say the disease (spreading among Orang Asli) was due to mining activities,” he told reporters after attending a meeting at the Kelantan mentri besar’s official residence at JKR 10 here today.
Asked if the state government had approved any mining activities at the settlement, Mohd Amar, who is also the state Public Administration, Regional Development, People’s Well-being and Integrity Committee chairman, said the state government is checking with the Lands and Mine Office (PTG).
Mohd Amar also evaded the question of whether there were any illegal mining activities in the area.
“PTG is responsible because it has an enforcement division, so if there is anything to refer, must refer to PTG. I am not able to answer, as I need to get information first (from PTG) if this is the case (illegal mining),” he said.
News reports have suggested that several deaths reported in Kampung Kuala Koh recently could have been due to contamination of ponds from where the Orang Asli got their water supply.
Mohd Amar also said the state government has taken several actions, including cooperating with all agencies involved, to check the problem.
“We cannot interfere in the field of other agencies just like that because everyone has their respective tasks, so we move according to our given duties.
“We fully cooperate with the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) in all fields. But Jakoa must lead this action because it (Jakoa) was established to take care of Orang Asli’s welfare,” he said. — Bernama